A recent college grad has revealed how her plan to save money by moving to a small house sparked a major row with authorities.
Brianna O’Brien moved into the tiny estate on her parents’ land in New Hampshire.
She bought the cozy home on wheels from Facebook Marketplace in September 2018 for just $29,000.
Made from reclaimed wood, she bought it on a low-interest loan because she couldn’t afford an apartment in her hometown of Hampton Falls, near the Massachusetts border.
She told Insider, “All the pieces are aligned so I can start looking inside tiny houses.”
Brianna originally attempted to get the home properly zoned with the local zoning authority until she realized how complicated the process was.
She said: “I’ve looked to crowdsourcing for advice a lot, and the majority of people who live in tiny houses on wheels recommend keeping it as under the radar as possible because the bureaucracy is so difficult.”
Eventually, she decided to park it on her parents’ property, “hidden in the bushes” so as to be barely visible from the outside.
But six months later, she received an eviction notice.
A neighbor had spotted the home and alerted the zoning authority, who informed Brianna that their tiny home did not meet local zoning codes.
A local building inspector told her the home had no formal plumbing, was too close to the property line, and had only one entrance.
Brianna found herself in a Catch 22 situation where she had to get a occupancy permit to zone the house, but since there are no building codes for tiny lots, she automatically breaks all zoning ordinances.
She fought for a residency permit, stating that the tiny house was a viable and safe place to live full-time.
Brianna also said that she would fix the ordinances that she had broken.
But in August 2019, the Hampton Falls Zoning Board of Adjustment denied her application, preventing her from legalizing her tiny house.
In most parts of the US, local governments consider tiny houses to be RVs and as such have difficulty finding legal parking.
The zoning board said the tiny house could reduce property values, a common argument against them in affluent neighborhoods.
According to website realtor.com, the average home price in Hampton Falls in March 2023 was just under $860,000.
Brianna described how she was “devastated, embarrassed and humbled” by the outcome.
After all, she not only had to leave her tiny house, but also her beloved hometown.
“It was a bummer,” she said. “It felt like they didn’t want me.”